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What's in a Name? Comrade Kiev becomes Comrade Kyiv

The Motherland Monument in Kyiv. Image by Rostislav Artov

A flea market in Kyiv is where it all began. I stumbled across a collection of almost 100 posters and instead of buying just a few, I bought them all. In that moment, I knew I had to share them with the wider world. Over the past few years, I’ve built a purpose driven business selling original vintage posters from Ukraine and many of the other former Soviet Republics. Today, I’m righting a wrong by changing our name from Comrade Kiev to Comrade Kyiv. 

What's in a name?

Kyiv or Kiev? Does it matter? Yes, because the two most common ways of spelling the name of Ukraine’s capital city are each loaded with political connotations. 

Kyiv was founded by three brothers in the fifth century. It's named after the eldest sibling, Kyi. After the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991, Ukraine became an independent state. Since then, it has worked to shed the linguistic relics of its Soviet and Russian past by promoting the use of Ukrainian language transliterations for local streets and towns - Kyiv instead of Kiev. 

Kiev is the Russian way of pronouncing Ukraine’s capital city. For many in Ukraine, ‘Kiev’ is associated with the russification of Ukraine. While part of the Russian Empire, and later, the USSR, the use of the Ukrainian language in print was banned so as to strengthen Russian linguistic and political influence in the country. Today, Russia still continues to intimate Ukraine, and undermine its autonomy. In 2014, it annexed Crimea, and in recent months it has amassed a force of 175,000 Russian troops at Ukraine’s border in preparation for a potential invasion in early 2022.

Standing on the right side of history

Today, we’re changing our name to Comrade Kyiv to reflect our unwavering support for Ukraine. We stand on the right side of history, beside our comrades in Kyiv. But we go beyond lip-service. We've also put our money where our morals are. In 2021, we gave £1,439.80 to Human Rights Watch, an independent, non-profit NGO that exists to give voice to the oppressed and promote freedom and equality everywhere. If you would also like to support their work, you can make a tax deductible donation here or buy a vintage poster from Comrade Kyiv!

The World Beats Weapons Through the Ideals of Socialism | Russia | 1983£150.00
List of all posters

Further Reading

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Celebrating 60 Years of Humans in Space with a New Tour

60 years ago today, humans left Earth for the first time. On 12th April 1961, Soviet cosmonaut, Yuri Gagarin, achieved Godlike status when he orbited the earth for 1 hour and 48 minutes onboard the Vostok 1. From outer space, borders vanish; and the conflicts that divide nations fade away. Space is our future.

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Announcing Sustainable, Ethical, Design-led Tours to the Former USSR

Posters tell the stories of the USSR. But not the whole story. The rest needs to be experienced. I’ve had several customers ask for advice on travelling to the former Soviet republics. In my own experience, I’ve found that travelling to many of these countries is often difficult. I wanted to change that.

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How We're Building a Purpose Led Business

In 2019, we made the decision to donate 1% of all Comrade Kiev’s revenue to causes that align to our values. Every year, we’re increasing that percentage by 1% until 10% of revenue goes towards supporting impactful causes As a small business, every dollar counts, but our moral obligation cannot wait.

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We’ve Integrated with Klarna to Make Art More Accessible

Soviet posters were often printed by their thousands. But most were thrown away when the movie or movement was over. The rest usually ended off in attics or basements where water, termites and time slowly destroyed them. The posters that survive today, in good condition, are increasingly rare.

hello@comradekiev.com
+44 7397 297470
london, UK
london, UK
+44 7397 297470
hello@comradekiev.com
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